Motorcade witness: Malcolm Kilduff on announcing the death of JFK

Malcom Kilduff was the man who made the official announcement to the world that President Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas,Texas.

This 26-minute interview was conducted on November 22, 1990, at Mr. Kilduff’s home near Beattyville, Kentucky, by reporter Bob Hensley of WTVQ-TV in Lexington, Kentucky.

Some highlights:

On the origin of the gunfire:

(4:15) “By that time I had turned around and I was looking to my rear right and up. …. I was looking at the window, without realizing it, of the School Book Depository. There have been many theories, many people have conjectured where the shots came from. From the grassy knoll. If it had come from the grassy knoll I would have been looking ahead, to the right… But I didn’t. I turned around and looked up, that was my immediate reaction on my part, and I have to say if the shots weren’t coming from there, why did I look up?”

On the reaction of Lyndon Johnson:

(12:20) “Lyndon Johnson was very cool. He said, ‘Well you know Mac, we don’t know what kind of communist conspiracy this might be.'”

On who was responsible

(15: 50) “Lee Harvey Oswald… Acting alone.”



30 thoughts on “Motorcade witness: Malcolm Kilduff on announcing the death of JFK”

  1. LBJ also supposedly called Captain Will Fritz at the DPD and told him that you have found your man,now stop your investigation.

  2. 1991 MAC KILDUFF INTERVIEW (a partial transcript)

    It was interesting to note in retrospect what his reaction was, Bob. You will recall that Adlai Stevenson had been to Texas a few weeks before that. And we had the far political right was very active in General Walker … and Adlai Stevenson had been belted with rotten eggs in Dallas. So we all though this was some sort of you know right, far right activity. Lyndon Johnson was very cool. He said, “Well now Mac [he said] before you make that announcement we don’t know what kind of a communist conspiracy this might be.” He was thinking a communist conspiracy.

    INTERVIEWER BOB HENSLEY OF WTVQ:: “He is saying that it was a conspiracy. He wants to know who was involved.”

    That’s right. But he [LBJ] thought said ”this could be a communist conspiracy. And I think the best thing for me to do is get back to Air Force One before you make that announcement.”

    I said “alright.”

    He [LBJ] said then “We will wait back there. For whatever you are going to to. And then to go back to Washington.” So with that we left the trauma room with Johnson, went out the emergency exit of the hospital, put him in his car and he took off for Love Field, to go back to Love Field and Air Force One.

    1. This suggests foreknowledge. It’s already setting the tone: “this is a dangerous and volatile situation and we must handle an investigation with great care.” If it was a right wing nut there’d be no reason not to investigate the heck out of it, but instead, with this concern raised, a lid could be put on the investigation and secrecy justified. He’s already out in front of this very early.

      1. Who more than Lyndon Johnson, involved in Texas politics for over 30 years, was more acutely aware of (and shared by Johnson himself) the hatred of JFK by the notorious and vocal Dallas Right Wing?

        And yet, as Malcolm Kilduff illustrates, Lyndon Johnson was pushing the “communists killed JFK” before Kennedy’s body is even in rigor mortis? Then LBJ leaves the nuclear football man behind in Dallas. And then he calls his Dallas investment advisor to literally sell his Halliburton stock after the “communists” have killed JFK and we are about to have World War III or an invasion of Cuba? Let’s not forget LBJ on Air Force One so hysterical that Gen. Godfrey McHugh (an old friend of Jackie Kennedy) literally has to slap Johnson to calm him down as he is yapping about “conspiracy, conspiracy” and “they are going to kill us all.”

        [From “Family of Secrets” by Russ Baker, p. 132]

        “Pat Holloway, former attorney to both Poppy Bush and Jack Crichton, recounted to me an incident involving LBJ that had greatly disturbed him. This was around 1PM on November 22, 1963, just as Kennedy was being pronounced dead. Holloway was heading home from the office and was passing through the reception area. The switchboard operator excitedly noted that she was patching the vice president through from Parkland Hospital to Holloway’s boss, firm senior partner Waddy Bullion, who was LBJ’s personal tax lawyer. The operator invited Holloway to listen in. LBJ was talking “not about a conspiracy or a tragedy,” Holloway recalled. “I heard him say: ‘Oh I gotta get rid of my goddamn Halliburton stock.’ Lyndon Johnson was talking about the consequences of his political problems with his Halliburton stock at a time when the president had been officially declared dead. And that pissed me off… It really made me furious.”

        1. I wonder if LBJ really did say, in AF1, “they are going to kill us all”. Exact same thing his buddy Conally said during the shooting. But what bothers me about LBJ’s initial moves as POTUS is what he said to the American people when they landed at Andrews AFB in Maryland. “For me, it(the loss of JFK)is a deep, personal tragedy”. Was it, Lyndon?

  3. It’s interesting that LBJ immediately raised the fear of a “communist conspiracy”, and then gladly rushed to the “safety” of Air Force One. That plane was fully topped-off with explosive jet fuel. He then ordered AFO to stay on the tarmac, and wait for the judge (an unnecessary legal action). While waiting, he stretched out, relaxing on Mrs. Kennedy’s bed. If he was truly worried about a conspiracy, why he was sprawled-out inside a potential firebomb – an airplane that a conspirator’s phosphorous-tipped bullet could instantly make into a blazing mini-Hiroshima?

    IMO because he knew EXACTLY what just transpired and had no reason fear for HIS life.

    1. Walter Cronkite reported to the nation “Vice-President Lyndon Johnson has left the hospital(Parkland), but we don’t know to where he has proceded”. Kennedy aides Powers and O’Donnell were stunned to find him on Air Force 1, thinking he’d left for Washington on Air Force 2(The Veep plane).

      1. I think in his paranoid mind he wanted to officially establish that he was president pronto knowing that he was being investigated in Washington that same day. I think he wanted to nip in the bud any potential controversy about his fitness for the presidency by acting like the president right away, hence going to Air Force 1 and getting sworn in, while the nation was still digesting what happened.

  4. Kilduff is yet another witness whose clear recollection the last two shots were bunched together (bang bang) is in opposition to his ultimate conclusion Oswald acted alone. Hubba wha?

    As far as his pointing to the temple…he said he got this info from Burkley–who’d took a look at the body, and had conferred with the emergency room doctors. They saw but one wound–a large wound presumably of entrance and exit, but possibly an exit for a bullet entering the throat. Under no circumstances then should Kilduff’s statements regarding Burkley’s statements be used to suggest these men saw an ENTRANCE wound by the temple and a large blow-out wound on the back of the head. That’s just desperate. I know a lot of people want to pretend that Kilduff’s statements suggests such a thing. But it’s just not true.

  5. It should be noted that Kilduff’s pointing to his right temple with his hand in a “gun” shape the afternoon of 11/22/63 on TV was done before the Secret Service could brief him that all shots came from the rear. Seems he’s towed the line since.
    Furthermore, was he not riding in the 4th or 5th car back? Still up on Houston? He would have heard the shot or shots from the TSBD and/or DAL-TEX building. But maybe not those from the Grassy Knoll or elsewhere, further away.

  6. Who besides LBJ knew Dallas DA Henry Wade better? Wade idolized LBJ. They exchanged letters fawning over each other, “anything I can do to help…”.
    LBJ probably “knew” it was a Communist plot before a shot was ever fired.

    1. I think that way back when LBJ met with his attorney Ed Clark, LBJ learned that the assassination would happen. Clark didn’t tell LBJ how,where, or when, but he told LBJ in effect that the latter would be the 36th POTUS before JFK’s first term was up.

      1. When it comes to the Dallas trip I believe he “heard” that a “communist” might do something crazy and that’s why he had the communist angle ready to roll. Otherwise it’s a stupid assumption based on no evidence.

        The real purpose was to terrify people into letting the government handle everything and keep their mouths shut.

  7. It was sometime between 1:20PM (when Kilduff tells LBJ he is president) and 1:26 PM (when LBJ rushes to Air Force One) that Lyndon Johnson, aka “Carnac the Magnificent,” and 30 minutes before the arrest of Oswald at 1:50PM says: “We don’t know what kind of a communist conspiracy this might be…”

    Go to the 11 minute mark of this very important Mac Kilduff interview (11-22-91):

    Mac Kilduff was filling in for JFK press secretary Pierre Salinger who did not make the Dallas trip.

    Thirty minutes before Oswald’s arrest at 1:50 PM, Lyndon Johnson is immediately pushing the “communists did it” narrative.
    The political world in America and the Kennedy entourage were thinking it was a far right Dallas conspiracy that had just killed JFK – one of the “nuts” from “Nut Country” as John Kennedy had described Dallas just two hours before his death,after reading an assault ad accusing him of treason in the Dallas Morning News, on the plane ride over from Fort Worth. (JFK to Jackie: “We’re heading into nut country.”)

    So, how does Lyndon Johnson, with his legendary political ken, immediately deduce with his paranormal abilities that it was a “communist conspiracy” within mere minutes (or seconds) of his finding out (1:20PM) that JFK was deceased and a full 30 minutes before patsy Oswald was arrested at 1:50PM in the Texas Theater?

    Didn’t Lyndon Johnson himself have a nasty experience with Dallas’s Mink Coat Mob in the 1960 presidential campaign?
    Web link on LBJ 1960:

    Just one month before in October 1963, Adlai Stevenson had been assaulted by the far right of Dallas Because of that Adlai Stevenson had in fact personally implored JFK to not go to Dallas.
    Web link on Adlai Stevenson:

    Not only that, a Dallas citizen Nelle Doyle had written JFK and begged him not to come to Dallas because of fears over his safety in the far right Dallas atmosphere.
    Nelle Doyle web link:

    1993 Peter Pringle essay on the Dallas hard right hatred of JFK in 1963:

    QUESTION: Did Lyndon Johnson have divination powers the equal of “Carnac the Magnificent” to immediately *know* that the communists must have murdered John Kennedy in Dallas? Who more than Lyndon Johnson knew about the hard right Dallas hate for JFK? (Who more than Lyndon Johnson hated the Kennedy brothers and who was fully aware they were out to destroy him in the fall of 1963?)

    1. LBJ speaking of a communist conspiracy before Oswald is arrested is one of the most convincing indicators that he had foreknowledge of what was going to happen.

      1. One of the worst books written in relation to the JFK assassination is “Dallas 1963” by Bill Minutaglio and Steven Davis. That is because it is basically a book wailing about the well documented hard right atmosphere of Dallas in 1963. The reason this book is so insidious is because it accepts the lone nutter fantasy of the Warren Commission and utterly denies the Dallas Right or any right wing had anything to do with the JFK assassination.

        Book link:

        No reasonable person in the world was immediately guessing at 1:20 to 1:26 PM that John Kennedy had been killed by a communist. The vast majority of folks figured, after the recent Adlai Stevenson brouhaha, that a Dallas Right Wing Nut or group of ultra conservative Kennedy haters.

        The Dallas Mayor literally had to go on TV before Kennedy’s visit and appeal to the population to act civilly towards JFK.

        And the political insiders both in Texas and nationally, aware of the Kennedy-Johnson war going on, figured Lyndon Johnson had murdered JFK. JFK secretary Evelyn Lincoln sure did: LBJ was literally at the top of her list.

        So in the context of all this we have Lyndon Johnson, aka “Carnac the Magnificent” coming out strong that some sort of communist had just murdered JFK: 30 minutes before the arrest of Oswald. The same LBJ who had survived the Dallas “Mink Coat Mob” at the Adolphus Hotel at the end of the 1960 presidential campaign.

        Why do people even argue with me when I tell them Lyndon Johnson murdered JFK?

  8. Did LBJ say that about a communist conspiracy in the hospital? If so he came to an amazingly fast conclusion about the cover story.

  9. Kilduff says he thinks it was Oswald alone who killed JFK. We recall his press announcement where he showed the location of the fatal wound. C’mon, Mac, do you really think THAT one came from Oswald in the TSBD? Kinda hard to hit him there from behind when the target is slowly heading downhill.

    1. Have to agree with Paul. Kilduff’s original impression at the press conference in Parkland was not of a bullet in the back of the President’s head. He clearly pointed to the right temple. Why would he do that?

      1. That’s right. Kilduff uses his own first instinct as some kind of proof that the bullets came from the TSBD. I’m not sure why he doesn’t trust his initial instinct in pointing to his right temple for the fatal shot.

        In the end I don’t consider Kilduff any more or less authoritative than any other witnesses that day.

      2. When Dealey Plaza witnesses Zapruder and Bill Newman appeared on TV on 11/22, they too described only the wound in JFK’s right temple. That was the only one visible to them. It was also the only wound Kilduff could’ve seen, if he ever actually viewed the body (I don’t know if he did or not). Nobody turned JFK over at Parkland.

        1. I agree with Jean here, the entry wound was the right temple. This agrees with Sherry Fiester’s ballistics analysis as well.

          What Fiester proves is that this is an entry wound that came from the front, on the far end of Dealey Plaza, and not from behind the picket fence, as the “grassy knoll” story would have it.

          The bullet entry was at an angle and the trajectory was entirely through the right hemisphere of the head.

          1. Willy,

            “I agree with Jean here, the entry wound was the right temple. This agrees with Sherry Fiester’s ballistics analysis as well.”

            Excuse me, but we don’t agree that it’s an “entry wound.”

    2. Yes I also thought that Kilduff had been pointing to his right temple when he made the announcement. Of course the gesture would also seem to be a practical way of just pointing to his head, assuming that he is right handed…?

      1. So if he was left handed he would have pointed at the left temple? But he didn’t. It’s pretty straightforward, on video tape live while it was all happening. What he had just been told from the witnesses on hand, SS, Doctors, more.

      2. It’s just as easy to point to the back of your head. A person would naturally point to the place they think the bullet originated and I think he did.

  10. It is amazing that Mr. Kilduff thinks Oswald was shooting at John Connally. The reason- because Oswald had a motive to dislike Connally over his dishonorable discharge, but Oswald had no motive to kill Kennedy. I guess his theory is that JFK just happened to be in the way.

    I do take from his story that the assassination occurred very quickly and even close observers did not realize what had happened. I think this supports a conclusion that the event was highly organized and expertly executed. Hitting a moving target is not so simple.

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